Sabalenka cruises into Rome last 16, Sakkari also through

tennis12 May 2024 20:29
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Aryna Sabalenka © Getty Images

Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka will face Elina Svitolina for the first time since their handshake row at last year's French Open after both cruised into the last women's last 16.

Second seed Sabalenka beat Dayana Yastremska, 6-4, 6-2 to set up a clash in the next round with Svitolina, a two-time winner at the Foro Italico, who comfortably beat Anna Kalinskaya 6-3, 6-3.

Svitolina accused Belarusian Sabalenka of inflaming tensions surrounding the Russia-Ukraine war for waiting at the net for a handshake after beating Ukrainian Svitolina in the Roland Garros quarterfinals in 2023.

Svitolina had already insisted she was not going to offer one, as all Ukraine players refused to shake hands with Russian and Belarusian rivals in protest at the ongoing war.

Sabalenka, who has never won in Rome but is a two-time champion on the Madrid clay, looks in good shape to at least match her 2022 run to the semifinals.

Earlier, Maria Sakkari lined up a probable last-16 clash with Victoria Azarenka who faces 80th-ranked Egyptian Mayar Sherif later on Sunday.